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Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?

Robert Peston | 15:53 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Vodafone in its modern, multinational form was to a large extent created by Sir Chris Gent, an ambitious Brit who went on a takeover spree around a decade ago.

Whether or not that takeover spree was good for shareholders or for the UK is an argument for another day.

Gerard Kleisterlee

But it is striking that with the appointment today of Gerard Kleisterlee as its chairman, Vodafone - the UK's second biggest company - is now chaired by a Dutchman and run by an Italian, Vittorio Colao.

For the UK's biggest multinational companies, it is now a clear trend for Brits to be in the minority in the most senior positions.

Including Vodafone, four of the five biggest British businesses by market value don't have a Brit as either chairman or chief executive: BP is run by a Swede and an American; Rio Tinto by a South African and an American; and Shell by a Finn and a Swiss national.

Only HSBC, of that top five, has Brits at the top.

What's going on?

Well some would say that these companies aren't really British any longer in anything but a formal, legalistic sense - in that their assets are all over the world, and the UK is often not their biggest market.

On that view, Britishness of these companies is a quaint accident of history. And you would expect such international institutions to be managed by citizens from many different countries.

But here's the thing. If you look at American multinationals, or French multinationals, Dutch Multinationals, or German multinationals, Indian multinationals, or Swedish multinationals, you see lots of Americans, French, Dutch, Germans, Indians and Swedes at the helm.

You see them at the helm of businesses from their own respective countries. And you see them running companies that are headquartered half a world away from where they were born.

However you don't see that many Brits in the ascendant at non-British companies or - increasingly - at British companies.

Why is that?

Well that apparently endangered species, the British chairman of a British FTSE100 company told me he thinks it's a work-life balance thing: he claims that we Brits prefer the quiet life at home, rather than the thrills of living on a plane and consorting with prime ministers and the rest of the global elite.

Maybe.

Or maybe it's just another manifestation of the relative openness of the British economy and the UK's unusual cultural tolerance.

Does it matter that the big bosses aren't from the UK?

Well it might, on the margin, have an impact on where these companies choose to invest.

And if you think these companies are global powerhouses, there is a question about whether British interests are sufficiently represented when corporate bosses flex their political and economic muscles.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Didn't we cut the line on that boat a while ago? Does it matter - I find it endearing you still think it might. Multi-nationals are loyal only unto themselves and the market/s they are 'working' in, not a criticism, simply a reality.

    As we become poorer and therefore more peripheral as a nation, there would seem little for them to invest in. Perhaps it is that fact which is seeing few Brits rise to the top!

  • Comment number 3.

    Brits don't run the Corporate World simply because of

    Globalization

    The world is now so so much smaller and countries simply don't matter anymore.

  • Comment number 4.

    Might they want too much money?

    Or should I say compensation?

  • Comment number 5.

    Ah well.....

    You just have to look at other walks of life. How many footballers playing in the major league are British; how many football managers are British; and where are the best British sports people (not in Britain).

    It is not because the British are bad at these sorts of things (Virgin boss and Amstrad boss for example) but it is just that the rest of the world is better. They also have money to buy their way in. When it comes to having the money to spend the U.K. is somewhere behind the majority of countries (China, India and Russia for example).

    It is just that the U.K. is a poverty stricken country, while other economies are creating millionaires by the minute.

  • Comment number 6.

    Or maybe it is because the UK has a habit of bashing successful people and we are made to feel ashamed of being "better" than anyone else as that is very un-PC

  • Comment number 7.

    "Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?"

    Come on Robert - get with the programme - surely it should be

    "Why do Brits allow the corporate world to rule them?"

    ...after all....it is fascism you know - not that nobody seems to notice, I mean we have no knee high boots and goosestepping so I presume the minds of the nation are somewhat confused about what fascism is.

    Corporatism has no nationality - please stop confusing the people with talk of 'UK citizens at the helm' - they are corporate greed monkeys first and whatever nationality second.

    I mean is Sir Fillem-up Green a UK CEO? - it seems to me he spends the minimum amount of time in this country that his tax status will allow.

  • Comment number 8.

    Or is it that truly multi-national companies cannot afford to be tied to the 'old boys' network that burdens so many plc's and prefer to hire real talent instead? Discuss.

  • Comment number 9.

    No doubt we're benefiting from foreign expertise. However, the leaders of our top companies are ambassadors for Britain around the world and if they're not British they won't be talking up Britain in the way we need. Also, we need top players to influence our public services - education, research, defence and foreign CEOs and chairman are probably a little bit less likely to spend time and money sponsoring the thinking behind and delivery of those services. It just makes it a little bit harder to keep up with the rest of the world.

  • Comment number 10.

    Could it be that our top educational facilities where our "leaders of industry" are expected to come from are still preaching about "fair play" and "don't hit a man when he's down" etc which attitude doesn't cut it anymore in the world of big business i.e. we are not seen as strong enough to take the tough decisions and see them through. Mind you , the guy at B.A. seems to be doing OK.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think it is a systemic belief that we are not good enough? Football management is another prime example, my team as an Italian manager would could only draw with a team that as a Spanish manager and on the field of play was probably 15 other nationalities.

    Or could it be that we have priced ourselves out of that market? Lets say an Austrian international player costs 800K and is on 40K per week whereas a British player without international status could cost 10mil and demanding 50K per week. These British players cannot move onwards and upwards because of this! Perhaps JFH as put some valid arguments forward?

    As a side note: On the way to the match yesterday evening, I sat by a chap on the metro and we were talking about football, now call me Mr paranoid but this chap had a sticking plaster and an alternative view on everything? The way he strung his sentences together reminded me of a blogger on here – I nearly asked are you …..?

    It wasn’t was it?

  • Comment number 12.

    #6. At 16:41pm on 2nd Feb 2011, yam yzf wrote:
    Or maybe it is because the UK has a habit of bashing successful people and we are made to feel ashamed of being "better" than anyone else as that is very un-PC

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thanks for that, I haven't laughed quite so much for ages.

  • Comment number 13.

    Simple really - the British are a nation of amateurs, and British company bosses would prefer to relax in their country pile rather than face the new international scrutiny. Look no further than BP's Tony Hayward who under pressure said "I'd like my life back".

    Not that I think their attitude is bad - quite the opposite, there's more to life than working 24/7.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    In my view the reason is that other countries are much more protectionist of their own interests/people at all levels.
    The lax employment laws failing to protect workers' employment in the UK has a knock on affect all the way up the ladder. The impact is that we have imported the 3rd World poverty by selling off the UK family silver in terms of the top UK companies.
    We are now a 3rd World country with 3rd World poverty; just haven't quite realised it yet.

  • Comment number 16.

    6. At 16:41pm on 2nd Feb 2011, yam yzf wrote:

    "Or maybe it is because the UK has a habit of bashing successful people and we are made to feel ashamed of being "better" than anyone else as that is very un-PC"

    How about "we were never that good" - but colonialism and it's benefits gave us an advantage in many areas of exploitation. Now those effects are gone we're realising that most of the people we thought were 'great' were in fact mediocre.

    Unless you think the East India Trading company was actually a well run efficient machine - as opposed to a worldwide company which used it's rule of areas of India to supplement it's income and success at the expense of those indegenous people.

    I find it quite funny how the arrogance of the UK population is evident in their assumption we should be 'the best' when actually there is no basis for this believe other than the denial of histrical facts.

    Just as the UK empire crumbled and we are now a small island off Germany - so too is the US empire crumbling and they will soon be wondering where it all went wrong too.

    There is no shame in being better - but there is shame in thinking your better when you're not.
    ....I mean don't you think Capitalism is the 'best system on offer' - not really seeking out perfection with that statement now are you?

  • Comment number 17.

    12 replies in & no one appears to have stated the obvious.

    Could it be that Brits are simply not good enough to run global companies? Add that to the toxic nature of British media when reporting on multi-national companies (i.e. they are all evil) & what do you get?
    Other countries/people just get on with running the companies without worrying about the media. You just have to compare how Tesco gets treated when it reports another profitable quarter, with say Wal-Mart in the US or Tata Group in India.

  • Comment number 18.

    11. At 17:02pm on 2nd Feb 2011, common_man_123 wrote:

    "As a side note: On the way to the match yesterday evening, I sat by a chap on the metro and we were talking about football, now call me Mr paranoid but this chap had a sticking plaster and an alternative view on everything? The way he strung his sentences together reminded me of a blogger on here – I nearly asked are you …..?

    It wasn’t was it?"

    I hope you don't mean me, for I ride my bike home (well I did last night) so you won't catch me on the tube (or did you mean the Birmingham metro?)

    Did he say "I am writingsonthewall" per chance? - don't worry about that - they're all doing it - just like they did to protect spartacus!

    ...and I don't wear sticking plasters - they are for wimps, I prefer to bleed out until my blood clots to ensure I'm still healthy.

  • Comment number 19.

    12. At 17:07pm on 2nd Feb 2011, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:

    "Thanks for that, I haven't laughed quite so much for ages."

    Please don't put the wallflowers down - it will damage the economy!

  • Comment number 20.

    Here's a classic 'bending of the truth'..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12339378

    Sounds like good news - until you realise 2 years ago was 2009 and the restrictions on mortgages were at an all time high (something to do with a credit crunch)

    More importantly this is nowehere near the pre-2007 levels and ultimately if you want things to go back to how they were - that's what should be the aim.

    It's more important that people have
    a) Stopped applying for mortgages - the approvals are falling and falling (alhtough I did read some clown tried to blame the weather for that!!!, my mortgage before last was done via the phone, how does the weather affect it?)
    b) Are continuing to pay back more than they are borrowing.

    It's almost as if the people no longer trust the Government and rather than extending themselves further in order to please the clowns of consumption based economies, they prefer to protect themselves from the incoming storm.

  • Comment number 21.

    Good question : "What's going on?"

    The obvious answer but oblivious to the British postings here because they really don't know.
    It is because after the fall of the British Empire, you lost the skill for managing monopolies or oligopolies, whether as a price manipulator and/or public relations-wise in face of all the socialists.

    The USA still got the touch via Microsoft, Intel etc. The South Americans and Spainish speakers can look to Grupo Carso and Carlos Slim. The Finns and Swedes look to Nokia. The South Africans, must be the supplying of gold and diamonds to the world despite the sanctions.

    As corporations get bigger and go for market domination, nothing like seasoned price manipulators to aid in success.

  • Comment number 22.

    16. At 17:25pm on 2nd Feb 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:

    "....I mean don't you think Capitalism is the 'best system on offer' - not really seeking out perfection with that statement now are you?"

    -----------------------------------

    Well, WOTW, the simple answer to that is - because Capitalism actually exists and works albeit with some hiccups every now and then. Unlike your Uthopian countries borne out of imagination of useless dreamers. ALL attempts to introduce your Nirvana have ended up in failure - they all only differ in the scale of the disaster.

    You are right in one aspect though - it's one thing to criticise (and defend) something that is tangible. But - how do you criticise a pure dream...?

  • Comment number 23.

    Its quite a chicken and egg situation, this. Are British companies becoming "un-British" because they have foreigners to top posts or are they hiring foreigners to top posts because they need to become "un-British"?

    I strongly believe it is the latter.

    The British economy has been in decline for a while - the local markets are saturated and regulated to the extent that it is unaffordable for many companies to compete, the £ has lost so much value over recent years that is not sensible to stay British; when all things are considered, where is the benefit of remaining British?

    In India, where I come from, there is a booming population that is slowly getting more and more disposable income. That makes India attractive. Germany has a solid economy based on robust manufacturing, which makes it attractive. The USA is the land of opportunity and so bi-partisan politically that you know businesses do not fear government regulation. China has a market that developed very strongly and lots of people have lots of money to spend.

    Most developing countries have very cheap labour so your operating costs tend to stay low.

    In Britain, you have high corporation taxes, expensive labour, cost of land is very high, successive governments seem intent on discouraging companies from investing here with all the regulation.

    Take for example the home phone sector. BT may well be providing you with a home phone but they are duty bound to allow the likes of Plusnet or TalkTalk to use their infrastructure to supply broadband.

    A company like BAA is forced to sell off its second biggest asset because the government fears that is creating a monopoly.

    BSkyB is threatened to be reported to the regulator because the government thinks it should not be allowed to own both newspapers and a news channel. It is also forced to sell its content to rivals at a fair price.

    With such barriers in place, why would anyone want to put too many eggs in the British basket. And so, you've hit the nail on the head when you say that foreign bosses are more inclined to invest overseas; which is the precise reason why British companies are putting them in charge.

    (Please note, all use of the term foreigner isn't meant to be at all xenophobic or derogatory)

  • Comment number 24.

    During the 1980's and early 1990's, I was frequently surprised to learn that this or that Silicon Valley company had a Brit at the helm. Or very near it. Of course, these were people who had left our shores during the brain drain twenty years earlier. (And there was also that interminable Hanson TV advertising campaign....)

    And coming up to date, it seems pretty inevitable that at some point in the future, Jonathan Ive will be CEO of of the world's hippest and first-or-second biggest company. That ought to make him a candidate for ruling the world.

    Maybe you just have to look in the right sectors and at the right times? And at the moment, we're between generations?

  • Comment number 25.

    #15 pietr8

    There is a simpler explanation.
    The Brit financial sector needs to make money.
    If that means selling off the family silver then so be it.
    The financiers meanwhile find strange bedfellows.

    Look at what is happening up in Redcar.
    The steelworks there - owned by an Indian company - is slated to be sold off to a Thai company. The Thai company needs to go to the city to raise the money. Local MPs and union reps are falling over themselves to try and sweeten the deal. EU carbon trading legislation promised to ignored etc. Jobs for locals etc. But who will be the real winners and losers? If the UK taxpayer is going to fund this operation why not simply nationalize it?

    But no. The City wants to make money. If that means turning part of the country into the third world then so be it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Robert,

    Ever the diplomat I note!

    Although a while between drinks on my part (apologies, life priorities), I could not resist adding some perspective to the mix.

    Simply put, if we view management as a production line, then the obvious question: why are we not producing high end, highly profitable managers?

    The clue is in the way we advocate not only corporate governance, but how we manage ourselves on a professional level within this framework. I'll break this down into a simple denominator: the *perceived* business priority which manifests time and again (with all things British) is not about national representation, national good or career good; the driver is solely individual - results based on individual performance, and individual awards in respect to remuneration.

    Now this might sound a little strange. This is the classic measure of a manager.

    So if this perception (ie individually inclined) is an issue, then we indeed have a problem!

    Shall we summon denizens of marketeers to promote / resurrect / sell virtues thereof perhaps? ;-)

  • Comment number 27.

    The reason there's no longer a Brit at the top of BP is because the Obama adminsitration manufactured a de-facto American coup within the company using the oil spill as an excuse denting it's standing as a strong British company and getting an American positioned to oversee what was left through his aggressive rhetoric about how BP was going to pay- something they said they'd do from the outset, whilst turning a blind eye to the US corporations and government agencies complicit in the spill who refused to take their share of the blame.

  • Comment number 28.

    The globalization of most international businesses now mean the world belongs to the knowledge people, people who have engineering, language, or business training. It does not matter where you come from nationality wise its your vision and direction that matters.
    The Brits are not really interested in more global integration look at the attitude towards Europe, they are very much inward looking. Or may be its the courses being taught at Universities these days working in industry is a dirty word.

  • Comment number 29.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 30.

    " Only HSBC, of that top five, has Brits at the top.

    What's going on? "

    Maybe, Robert, it's something to do with the foreigner's ability to speak English. I have a few Swedish friends. Their English is a lot better than my Swedish, or Dutch, or French.

    ....

    The only one in top 5 with Brits at the top ------- is a Bank! Bon Je jamais!

  • Comment number 31.

    It's down to whomever appoints these people. Mainly it's the big City fund managers and their concept of patriotism is only ever buying the same brand of champagne.

  • Comment number 32.

    I think the reason we do not have so many Brits at the top is just because right now circumstance cause it. BP's Brit was pushed, and the others don't right now, but only right now. Apart from the people with the 'Britain is rubbish' agenda, then I think other will know things change, and with English being the business language, then it allows many more foreigners (Dutch, German, French etc) to compete for our top jobs, yet less likely English speakers will be able to go for theirs. Of course Yanks, Canadians and Aussies also compete, and though I can't quote names, I would put money that a fair number of over seas top companies have Brits running them.

    Would it be nice for Brits to rule our own plc's, yes does it say terrible things about us if we don't, then no. I think Brits are as good as those from any other Nation, but right now, not so many are at the top. If in 5 years Brits happen to dominate, does that mean we are outstanding, probably not, only that circumstance went in our favour.

    As for all of the posters who seem to relish in stating we are third world, past it, living in the past, then please grow up. 5th - 6th largest economy in the world, and actually well respected my many abroad. No not by everyone, and no we don't always do the right thing, but if there are only 5 larger economies than us, out of some 200 or so, then I can live with that. English is the worlds business language, we are well respected abroad, and actually on balance we are run no better or worse than most of the other countries, some things better, some things worse. Anyone who says otherwise, clearly doesn't travel enough, and will lie about other things too. We are not perfect, but there are many many other even less perfect countries.

  • Comment number 33.

    22. At 18:01pm on 2nd Feb 2011, That_Ian wrote:

    "Well, WOTW, the simple answer to that is - because Capitalism actually exists and works........."

    Excellent news!!

    ".....albeit with some hiccups every now and then."

    Oh! So it doesn't work then?

    "Unlike your Uthopian countries borne out of imagination of useless dreamers. ALL attempts to introduce your Nirvana have ended up in failure - they all only differ in the scale of the disaster."

    Same old, same old. So I suppose the state controlled economies of....... nah I'm wasting my time.

    Before you knock state controlled economies as ideological and cry "Human nature, greed etc" from the roof tops I suggest you do some research into the social infrastructure of failed state controlled regimes and ask why did they fail, the real reasons are surprising. Only then will you realise it CAN be done whereas the failing capitalist regime is so full of contradictions and increasingly harsh corrective adjustments the capitalist elites have to call them natural cycles to convince the populace its normal. So its perfectly normal to boom and bust! Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 34.

    30. At 19:12pm on 2nd Feb 2011, The-itinerant-ex-pat wrote:
    -----------------
    Agreed, a lack of language skills will be a factor.

    If the government were doing its job it would be ensuring that foreign languages were taught well at school.

    It would also be ensuring that maths skills were up to scratch. Who would want a CEO who couldn't add up.

  • Comment number 35.

    # 30, The-iterant-ex-pat

    Before Hong Kong Monetary Authority, HSBS and Standard Chartered were the Hong Kong Dollar note-issuing banks. Commercial banks with central bank functions.
    Back to my #21, business knowledge in running monopolies or oligopolies is crucial for multi-national corporations global expansion.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hey, I've just noticed my blog at #1 has been modded, excellent :-))

    Prestige at last.

  • Comment number 37.

    34. At 19:51pm on 2nd Feb 2011, SleepyDormouse wrote:

    ".........It would also be ensuring that maths skills were up to scratch. Who would want a CEO who couldn't add up."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    UK Plc?




  • Comment number 38.

    Run by dutchmen, registered for tax in switzerland, selling chinese made products in india.

    Promoted by the disunited kingdom prime minister in shabby, grovelling trips to countries whose economy is not back in melt down.

    Yep, it's good to see 'british' companies doing well.

  • Comment number 39.

    The reason is simple - other countries have a bizarre culture of promotion based on merit.

  • Comment number 40.

    22. At 18:01pm on 2nd Feb 2011, That_Ian wrote:
    16. At 17:25pm on 2nd Feb 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:

    "....I mean don't you think Capitalism is the 'best system on offer' - not really seeking out perfection with that statement now are you?"

    -----------------------------------

    Well, WOTW, the simple answer to that is - because Capitalism actually exists and works albeit with some hiccups every now and then. Unlike your Uthopian countries borne out of imagination of useless dreamers. ALL attempts to introduce your Nirvana have ended up in failure - they all only differ in the scale of the disaster.

    You are right in one aspect though - it's one thing to criticise (and defend) something that is tangible. But - how do you criticise a pure dream...?

    ................
    The main issue I have with capitalism is that it seeks to avoid the rules of nature; ie we live in a spherical planet with a finite amount of resources. Any artificial constructed economist system, with the purpose of allocating resources, that requires perpetual, and not forgetting exponential, growth in order to achieve stability it therefore is simply not sustainable and ultimately doomed to fail at some point. So why bother trying to prop it up, when ultimately its not fit for purpose. Surely we would be better finding a new system that IS sustainable.

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree, Robert, that this is a worry that no-one seems to be talking about, so it's good that you're raising it today. Govt please take note.

  • Comment number 42.

    The people who are suggesting that British people are more likely to be slated for their success are probably correct. Look at Simon Cowell. Look at Tesco, Vodafone, BP or any British multinational, and feel the glowing heat of the hatred Britain as a collective direct at them. They're a symbol of the elite - the créme-de-la-créme - and so we hate them.
    When a French or American or German multinational posts a bumper profit one year, instead of donning their keyboard warrior outfit and apathetically typing blue murder about the iniqities of capitalism, the enterprising public tend to think "good for them", and then register their envy by creating businesses that can make said multinational's product cheaper, or of a better quality, or offer a higher level of service, or whatever.

    It's not that we don't have the talent. There's droves of corporate talent, they're all stuck in the City and scattered around corporate headquarters in London trying to avoid having bricks thrown at them, the successful little...

  • Comment number 43.


    My dad doesn't own the corporation :(

    Maybe the government could put me on a slave labour supposed employment scheme instead. Yipee

    Think I might prefer the riots.

    Yes we are now a 3rd rate country but hey at least we're a new globalised 3rd rate country. Yipeeeeee. NOT.

  • Comment number 44.

    1. Brits make good pioneers - fields of play where rules are thin on the ground. Not so many of those playgrounds any more. Playing by the rules is pretty boring; who wants to be a bureaucrat?

    2. Lifestyle? Hmmm... If you pay yourself a fortune, you grow fat and cease to be hungry. (OK, not universally true, but for many it is.)

    3. So expect the rise of the UK boss over the next few years, because they really are going to be hungry. Irish, too. (And time for another Stellios?)

  • Comment number 45.

    What RP is referring to here is Stock exchange listed companies. Go beyond that and there are examples of Brits running massive privately owned organisations. Jim Ratciffe at Ineos, Philip Green at Arcadia just two examples.

    Maybe it's just that British Managers have given up on the short termism caused by the quarterly dividend in favour of running a company with a longer term perspective.

  • Comment number 46.

    I can't believe how quick people are to slag off the country they live in (the UK) and the capabilities of their industrial leaders.

    I think Robert's suggestion that we are more open is right. I think we are closer to a meritocracy than many other countries in that we genuinely look for the best candidate regardless of nationality. If you want Bp to be run by the best CEO in the world then why on earth would you only search for one in the UK?

    Now you could say that our liberalism and internationalism will get us into trouble (too quick to give things away - our companies, national identity, national pride, etc) but I tend to think fierce nationalism would be worse.

    And heaven knows how writingsonthewall can describe this any of as fascism. By any sensible standards are a liberal, internationally focused democracy, with free elections which result in changes of government; we regularly replace one set of plonkers with another. But generally we are a very open and fair minded country.

  • Comment number 47.

    Slessac suggests we are closer to a meritocracy than other countries.

    But all too often we actually seem to appoint people (and award contracts) on the basis of its not what you know, its who you know.

    Hardly a meritocracy...

  • Comment number 48.

    34. At 19:51pm on 2nd Feb 2011, SleepyDormouse wrote:

    “It would also be ensuring that maths skills were up to scratch. Who would want a CEO who couldn't add up.”

    Banks! (sorry but you walked in to that)



    36. At 20:05pm on 2nd Feb 2011, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:

    “Hey, I've just noticed my blog at #1 has been modded, excellent :-))

    Prestige at last.”

    Obviously JFH Hit the complain button


    46. At 21:53pm on 2nd Feb 2011, Slessac

    I’m actually with you on this!

  • Comment number 49.

    I'm sure TGR Worzel is right and that this sometimes happens. Of course it does. But name a country that's better. France? Don't think so.

    And rather than just making a slightly bitter post why don't you produce some evidence? What do you REALLY know about the appointment of Kleisetrlee to justify the assertion that he hasn't got the job on merit?

  • Comment number 50.

    Successful people are not respected in this country, at least not by many people.

    My view is that people that work d....d hard, take risks with their own wealth, say backing a venture with their own home, at the lower end of the scale, deserve a good return. Most fail, those that don't deserve massively better than a 'safe' return. They create wealth and jobs.

    For those that are simply bean counters promoted to run major companies, risking no more than their next bonus, basic pay should be just that.

    Decades of this envy and pretend class war have achieved nothing for the socialists, except wealth for the top politicians- like TB?

  • Comment number 51.

    Then again, Camelot used to have Cadburys as a shareholder to gain the licence to run the lottery, now Nestles taking over who actually does our money go to? As far as I can work out 2p to the prize and the rest to foreign companies.
    Internationalisation works when the UK is a cash cow for the rest of the world ____ time to look at this?

  • Comment number 52.

    the time for retribution is drawing closer

  • Comment number 53.

    For all the Pro Capitalists, even the elite at Davos recognise there is a problem with the current system.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9382745.stm

    This split between the super-rich and everyone else prompted three Citigroup analysts to conclude that "the world is dividing into two blocs - the plutonomy and everyone else".

    ....this year, even the WEF, the premier convener of the global super-elite, is worried that income inequality has grown too extreme.

    But here is the lesson of history. In the long run super elites can only survive in one of two ways - by suppressing dissent, or by sharing the wealth.

    I think we all know which one they will choose.

  • Comment number 54.

    #51

    Talking of Cadbury's (KRAFT) they are now reducing their chocolate bars by 20% in size, while retaining the same price, due to increased costs of distribution & cocoa.

    Call me cynical but reducing your bar sizes costs lots of money to alter the machinery and wrapping. Could it be that the new factory they have in Poland was already set up to produce smaller bars.

    So not only have Kraft shafted the UK staff they are now trying to do the same to the consumer. I wont buy Cadbury's or Kraft products again.

  • Comment number 55.

    Corrupt politicians queue up to join the global elite. They have no national allegiance. They represent their interests, not our interests. Where's the mystery?
    ---
    47. At 22:08pm on 2nd Feb 2011, TGR Worzel wrote:
    "Slessac suggests we are closer to a meritocracy than other countries."
    What passes for meritocracy is a trick played on the masses by the privileged. It's not a level playing field and necessarily creates a self selecting global elite.

  • Comment number 56.

    It isn't the duty of a multinational corporation to represent the U.K's interests, indeed it isn't the duty of any corporation to represent a nation's interests. It is the duty of a corporation to make money and to follow the laws that apply while they make that money.

  • Comment number 57.

    THE ROOT OF EVIL - THE BONDS OF SLAVERY
    (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=478674522621&id=583847059)

    The very fact any government in the world is at all in debt is a result of a WHOLESALE FRAUD, for which most people are still entirely ignorant.

    Governments DO NOT need to borrow money, they could print themselves all they require. Instead, they print bonds (which are bills of exchange - ie. money) which they sell to their central bank (eg. Bank of England) who exchange it for their currency (eg. Sterling).

    It doesn't matter whether the Bank of England print the money, or the government directly, both methods have the same inflationary impact (inflation being a tax)...the difference is that through the current system, the tax-payer is lumbered with an additional debt tied to the bonds, PLUS compound interest rates that ensure the debt keeps growing at an accelerating rate. The taxpayer therefore pays MORE THAN TWICE for all government expenditure!!!

    Inflation is literally a tax upon money. It is affected by any growth or reduction in the overall money supply. As the government spends money, the money supply increases and inflation rises, as it taxes, the money supply falls and inflation falls.

    This is as simple as it should be: if you want a stable currency the government must tax as much as it spends. Any excessive expenditure (that’s not covered by taxation) will be covered by inflation.

    THERE IS LITERALLY NO NEED FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO REQUIRE DEBT!!!

    Unfortunately, the public have, over many generations, been hoodwinked into allowing previous governments to impose an intentionally overly complex and arcane financial system through which the world's bankers can call the shots by requiring governments to depend upon their own central banks (eg. the Bank of England) for access to finance.

    In the current system, the taxpayer not only pays for any excess expenditure through inflation, but is also expected to pay AGAIN the cost of the debt PLUS an exponentially growing rate of interest to bankers who themselves created the money from THIN AIR!!!

    Banks also cause inflation (a tax upon money) whenever they lend money that they don’t have. Through fractional reserve lending, for every deposit made, the bank can create and loan out as much money from thin air as their reserve requirements allow. In fact, the UK has abolished all reserve requirements, allowing the banks to create and lend as much money as they want at interest.

    This interest is another major problem, also known as usury it was illegal for good reason until fairly recently. In essence, one of the main problems is the exponential element, the fact that each year, not only accumulates interest on the unpaid debt, but also the unpaid interest of the preceeding years, accumulating at a faster rate year after year. To keep up with exponentially growing interest payments, when there is not even enough money in existence to pay the debt, governments and corporations NEED exponential economic growth, which in turn demands exponential rises in production AND consumption! Could usury, and the creation of money from nothing for the profit of the few, and the detriment of the rest, be at the root of many of the problems and inequalities facing the world?

    The banks print money, and governments print debt (on their taxpayers behalf)...does this sound to anyone like the way it SHOULD work???

    Until these basic frauds at the heart of banking are brought to the attention of the masses, we have little hope for remedy!

  • Comment number 58.

    56. As you correctly point out, a multinational corporation owes allegiance to NO ONE.

    In fact they are a conspiracy against their both their employees and customers...trying to exploit as much profit from each. Also, it goes deeper than this, corporations do not have a soul, they cannot be imprisoned if they break the law. In fact, many corporations include the costs of fines into their business plans, and if they can afford the fine, NOTHING IS ILLEGAL.

    Does this sound fair?

  • Comment number 59.

    The UK seems to be a depressed area. The people seem depressed and don't really take part in anything; they seem inclined to be led and not leaders. Too unskilled, too greedy, too lazy? The world is not their oyster.

  • Comment number 60.

    In re. to Ruski: I by no means suggested that corporations were engaged in illegal behavior, simply that they were under no obligation to advance a state's interests. They can choose to do so of course, so long as it remains legal but to take the U.S as an example there are no laws requiring American corporations to encourage democracy in other countries. Indeed I would be rather disturbed if corporations were required to pursue their nations interests. There are reasons why states have official diplomats and aid programs.

  • Comment number 61.

    I guess its like football. If your choosing from the best in the world the chances of picking a Brit are obviosuly going to be small.

  • Comment number 62.

    NORTHSEAHALIBUT wrote:

    Same old, same old. So I suppose the state controlled economies of....... nah I'm wasting my time.

    Before you knock state controlled economies as ideological and cry "Human nature, greed etc" from the roof tops I suggest you do some research into the social infrastructure of failed state controlled regimes and ask why did they fail, the real reasons are surprising. Only then will you realise it CAN be done whereas the failing capitalist regime is so full of contradictions and increasingly harsh corrective adjustments the capitalist elites have to call them natural cycles to convince the populace its normal. So its perfectly normal to boom and bust! Ridiculous.

    ==========================================================

    now i may seem to be being very ignorant here but i do hope you can give me a clear answer.

    just wondering if you could outline when and where there have been succesfully run state controlled economies which have worked over say 100 years (ie in the long run). and also the reasons if any that those systems failed.

    many thanks

  • Comment number 63.

    Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?

    Because all the top jobs are reserved for posh boys who are not very bright perhaps ? They do come up with some witty soundbites however and my favourite is still "We must fight the forces of stagnation"

  • Comment number 64.

    33. At 19:50pm on 2nd Feb 2011, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:

    "Well, WOTW, the simple answer to that is - because Capitalism actually exists and works........."

    Excellent news!!

    ".....albeit with some hiccups every now and then."

    Oh! So it doesn't work then?
    ----------------------------------
    Eh? Does having hiccups mean you are terminally ill…?

    "Unlike your Uthopian countries borne out of imagination of useless dreamers. ALL attempts to introduce your Nirvana have ended up in failure - they all only differ in the scale of the disaster."

    “!Same old, same old. So I suppose the state controlled economies of....... nah I'm wasting my time.”

    Well, NSH, I am still waiting for some new from you, mate. Somehow, it is OK for the regulars from the "correct" spectrum, yourself included, to repeat the same mantra over and over again yet when I ask for simple facts (you know, those awkward things WOTW always demands from his protagonists and allegedly swears by) I am accused of reiteration. Ah wait, that’s the shape of freedom of speech you and your lot will impose on the rest populace if your revolution becomes successful. You are quite right, why allow pure and perfect Marxist souls of people get polluted by the rotten Capitalism propaganda….

    “Before you knock state controlled economies as ideological and cry "Human nature, greed etc" from the roof tops I suggest you do some research into the social infrastructure of failed state controlled regimes and ask why did they fail, the real reasons are surprising.”
    -------------------------------------

    So, NSH, you are trying to make social changes in this country yet you are ignoring the most basic ingredients – the human dimension. Well, that makes a lot of sense then. You (Marxists) are presenting arguments for change of status quo where any objective person with modicum of common sense and real life experience can poke holes the size of which a cart and horses can get through. I can see your reasoning – let’s impose social changes and then rely on that Bible of practical knowledge and experience – Das Kapital – to guide us through….Ehem…

    How you are going to convince people here that the system that has failed so spectacularly every single time it was attempted is good for them is beyond me. I am disappointed in you, NSH, through these prejudiced comments you have shown yourself to be made from exactly the same material as many of those idealistic agitators from times past…

    So, there is a “real” reason for state controlled regimes to fail? You know that from personal experience, do you? You have been there and encountered that first hand? Well, if you did I salute you – for your unwavering beliefs and commitment to the cause despite all the hell you must have been through…

    It will be interesting to see what happens in Egypt and Tunisia. I mean, surely the people are not going to go for the "discredited" Democracy and associated Capitalism. After all it obviously failed, as you say. Marxism must be the only way forward for people – WOTW insists we are all perfect so that is the logical solution….

  • Comment number 65.

    36. At 20:05pm on 2nd Feb 2011, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:
    Hey, I've just noticed my blog at #1 has been modded, excellent :-))

    Prestige at last.

    ---------------------
    Join the club, NSH :-)

    I managed to read you post, though.

  • Comment number 66.

    40. At 20:14pm on 2nd Feb 2011, Averagejoe wrote:

    "So why bother trying to prop it up, when ultimately its not fit for purpose. Surely we would be better finding a new system that IS sustainable. "

    Agree completely, Averagejoe. Yes, we need to improve the system we have - gradually, so that if we start threading along the wrong path we still have a chance to come back to the last point in that development.

    Wholesale move to communism, however, is not the way forward...

  • Comment number 67.

    #1 - How the heck did asking a simple question break house rules????????

  • Comment number 68.

    Could it be that our society is not terribly meritocratic and therefore British CEOs do not trepresent the best talent within the society?

    In this context I thhink the pupil ppremium and opening up Oxbridge are good policies.

  • Comment number 69.

    It's because of "resistance to change". Brits and Brit companies are the slowest to uptake new technologies and/or embrace new work methods as they prefer not to take risks and rather go with the "tried and tested". If this is the attitude at the top then it quickly permeates down the organisation, resulting in a slow moving beast moving towards extinction. The theory of evolution then takes over!

    Shareholders (and IB's) realise this and prefer to have someone more dynamic at the helm.

  • Comment number 70.

    63. At 08:39am on 3rd Feb 2011, EconomicsStudent wrote:
    Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?

    Because all the top jobs are reserved for posh boys who are not very bright perhaps ? They do come up with some witty soundbites however and my favourite is still "We must fight the forces of stagnation

    ............................................................................................................

    Ahem, still not studying ? If you carry on like this you will end up an angry information technologist with a (non silicon ) chip on his shoulder...buckle down boy !

  • Comment number 71.

    64. At 08:59am on 3rd Feb 2011, That_Ian wrote:

    “It will be interesting to see what happens in Egypt and Tunisia. I mean, surely the people are not going to go for the "discredited" Democracy and associated Capitalism. After all it obviously failed, as you say. Marxism must be the only way forward for people – WOTW insists we are all perfect so that is the logical solution….”

    You may be surprised to hear that WOTW thinks they will move further towards capitalism as do I (the age of acquisitors). The reasons for this are set out in Ravi Batra’s book. Personally I don’t believe the solution is communism or any other ‘ism’ from the past, we need a new solution that fixes all the existing problems that we know exist, and then we can attach any label we wish. I don’t care whether the solutions are left wing right wing or middle, to me these are merely labels for those that like to pigeon hole things. I am happy to embrace any solution that has the right aims/objectives and that is capable of delivering them.

  • Comment number 72.

    • 70. At 10:09am on 3rd Feb 2011, AudenGrey wrote:
    63. At 08:39am on 3rd Feb 2011, EconomicsStudent wrote:
    Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?

    Because all the top jobs are reserved for posh boys who are not very bright perhaps ? They do come up with some witty soundbites however and my favourite is still "We must fight the forces of stagnation

    ............................................................................................................

    Ahem, still not studying ? If you carry on like this you will end up an angry information technologist with a (non silicon ) chip on his shoulder...buckle down boy !
    ………..
    I think we should be giving him credit. He realised what’s really going on, and is not accepting the teachings of neo classical economics. I’d hate to be his lecturer, having to answer his ‘radical’ questions.

  • Comment number 73.

    AudenGrey. You are patronising me again. Stop it.

  • Comment number 74.

    #64. At 08:59am on 3rd Feb 2011, That_Ian;

    I'm not trying to impose Marxist will on anyone I'm trying to produce, along with many like minded colleagues, an alternative based on a modern Marxist ideology, Marxism has come a long way from Das Kapital and Communist Manifesto's. I have been to East Germany, not on a pilgrimage but research, and have spoken to many former Soviet Bloc citizens getting both sides of the story, we are trying to produce something that incorporates the good and eliminates the bad from these attempts at Marxism. All of which descended rapidly into totalitarian fascism. We are ultimately seeking evolution not revolution, therefore it would be the will of the people not enforcement.

    I have mentioned before we don't advocate seizure of assets and capital but there would be limits on capital acquisition which would involve a gradual devaluation of individual estates aligned to a totally reformed housing policy. There would be application of MMT to transfer control of money supply to the state and all industry would be nationalised and administered by the workers and local authorities. We would incorporate a lot of soviet local administration policy as this was quite successful for regional industrial and social investment.

    Marx wrote Das Kapital and his manifesto when very few other than the elite owned any capital at all, we are in different times with mass aspiration for home ownership so we cannot adopt Marxism as an 1848 ideology but must adapt to current social expectations otherwise it is enforcement and will fail.

    This is obviously just the surface, the detail is extremely fine and currently running into an epic so it needs refining for public consumption.

  • Comment number 75.

    It tended to be the poorest and most backwards of third world countries rebelling against colonial oppression that adopted Marxism in the twentieth century. These countries then had economic warfare waged against them by the richer former colonial powers. They were only able to trade with equally backwards states. This is no recipe for economic success.

    Russia turned itself from an backwards aggrarian economy into an industrial and military power, defeated Nazi Germany, achieved world superpower status, near 100% literacy, first man in space, and some of the world's best education in terms of science, engineering and mathematics.

    However in practice, the constant economic (and military) warfare waged against the nascent socialist economies by the richer western world prevented any adoption of democratic and pluralistic principles (which form the main plank of Marxist "theory") and new elites and burocracies evolved that replaced the former. "The pigs became like men and the men like pigs". In the late eighties these elites, and the rising stars in the security forces, realised that greater wealth, priviledge and plunder could be achieved by breaking the last vestiges of the system and install the mafia capitalism that we see today.

    Marx never imagined that semi feudal peasant states would attempt socialism without passing first through the capitalist stage and a rising middle class. He imagined that the revolutions would happen first in the richer capitalist economies of UK, Germany and US. Why it didn't is another argument. But that was his mistake, and it is why socialism did not work.

  • Comment number 76.

    Perhaps the question should be, why SHOULD any of the top business's have a Brit at the helm.

    The way i see it in 20 years time we will be inconsequential to the big companies and we will actually see more Chinese Indians and Russians as the corporate face of companies, there is no sentiment, no moral compass, the only god is money.



  • Comment number 77.

    73. At 10:22am on 3rd Feb 2011, EconomicsStudent wrote:
    AudenGrey. You are patronising me again. Stop it.

    Sorry, I was actually only joking, but at a young age you must make up your mind if you wish to follow false prophets or real profits, eventually you will have (hopefully) a loving family to feed, so these are important days for you. Forgive an old fool.

  • Comment number 78.

    75. At 10:36am on 3rd Feb 2011, Reticent_Trader wrote:

    "Marx never imagined that semi feudal peasant states would attempt socialism without passing first through the capitalist stage and a rising middle class. He imagined that the revolutions would happen first in the richer capitalist economies of UK, Germany and US. Why it didn't is another argument. But that was his mistake, and it is why socialism did not work."

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    He also though the revolutions would be a lot earlier i.e. 1850's and would start in Germany due to rising popular unrest which had global sympathy. This is why Trotsky adopted a continual revolution philosphy which was unwise given the change in world economics over the previous 60 years. Marx also failed to relaise the extent technology would be used against the proles as well as by them, how could he foresee TV and the internet.

  • Comment number 79.

    > But it is striking that with the appointment today of Gerard Kleisterlee as
    > its chairman, Vodafone - the UK's second biggest company - is now chaired
    > by a Dutchman and run by an Italian, Vittorio Colao.

    The only people who matter are those at the sharp end, actually doing the work. The others are just overhead, so we farm it all out to foreigners.

    Problem solved!

  • Comment number 80.

    3 February 2011
    "World food prices at fresh high, says FAO"

    February 2010
    "World food prices will rise to record levels due to the financial crisis - say Peston bloggers"

    All those who predicted this should regard themselves as 'aware' - all those to whom this is a surprise shoudl regard themselves as 'mushrooms'.

  • Comment number 81.

    THIS IS A TREND THAT CAN BE SEEN IN MANY WORKPLACES IN LONDON. BRITISH PEOPLE ARE IN A MINORITY IN MANY WORKPLACES NOW.

  • Comment number 82.

    75. At 10:36am on 3rd Feb 2011, Reticent_Trader wrote:

    "Marx never imagined that semi feudal peasant states would attempt socialism without passing first through the capitalist stage and a rising middle class. He imagined that the revolutions would happen first in the richer capitalist economies of UK, Germany and US. Why it didn't is another argument. But that was his mistake, and it is why socialism did not work."

    It was no mistake - he infact pointed out that the Russian revolution was not a revolution against capitalism, as Russia was not a capitalist country at the time.

    What Marx was - is way ahead of his time. It takes people who have already established democracy and who are not inhibited by totalitarianism to spark a communist revolution - and this is what he recognised (which is why the Soviet Union failed)

    This is even more evident now as the Government is going to be faced with a choice soon - and I suspect their choice is already made and we will see draconian measures being used to suppress the people's outrage at the banks and corporations in general.
    Unlike in countries which have been fuedal - this will not be accepted by people who are used to democratic freedom - and we shall have our revolution.

    I see it as a reflection of the 'maturity' of society - if you try to jump straight into communism from a non-democratic background....then the people will accept any old dictator promising increased workers rights (i.e Stalin) - however mature nations will be aware of this and will reject any such moves as oppression.

    I suspect this is where the working class will finally find their consciousness. We cna see that rulers are failing to manage society effectively and I'm expecting chaos to reach Britain reasonably soon. What happens next may be the defining moment in history for all of mankind - more than events in the middle east.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    #80

    And that has what to do with "Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?"

    Global food prices will always rise as we keep overpopulating the planet. As Stephen Hawking said, we need to get off the planet (bad paraphrase, but near enough)

    And it is through a Brit - Branson - that more people will be able to take those first tentative steps into space and from there the quest will evolve. Unlike the ISS which is for the select few only

  • Comment number 85.

    This split between the super-rich and everyone else prompted three Citigroup analysts to conclude that "the world is dividing into two blocs - the plutonomy and everyone else".
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Capitalism is losing its legitimacy. Everyday I hear more and more stories of public school educated people enjoy the trappings of power and privilege. Meritocracy smeritocracy. Red Blue doesn't matter. It's the Lib-Lab Con.

    Other depressions and recessions in the past have seen a large decrese in inequality. i.e. the rich have gotten poorer faster than the poor have gotten poorer. This makes sense as the rich tend to hold the assets (property, stocks, bonds) that lose value. It is also fair as in the good times of growth the rich ger richer at a faster rate than the poor get less poor, but since everyone benefits there is little clamour to over throw the system.

    This time the country is becoming poorer, and will continue to do so, yet this does not fall on the rich elites. In fact they become even richer. The government and BOE pull out the stops to keep asset and property values (the source of all capital) high, the cost of capital low, and the cost of wages lower. The result of this is necessarily a higher cost of living living and reduced public services which disproportionally effect the poorer in society. A toxic brew indeed and difficult pill to swallow.

    Even Churchill recognised in 1940 that the sacrifices made by the British working people in defending his system and establishment from facism (which was advocated by less liberal tories) required a much greater sharing of wealth and privilege than hitherto. A home fit for heroes. Thatcher started to undo that "settlement" in the 1980s, entranched by Blair, and continued by Dave.

    Back on topic: What does this elitism mean for British business? Well, since Thatcher, UK and Ireland perhaps more than anywhere else in the world has been open for business to this new global elite. It is the "Wimbledonisation" of business. All the best talent come here but none of it home grown. It is simply a system of last 30 years of government policy.

    Perhaps the current lot are too stupid to realise that things cannot continue this week. I imagine soon they will get a tap on the shoulder from the men in grey suits who will tell them that they need to give something back. Chuck a dog a bone. A token perhaps. But maybe not, just look at the bankers' intransigence over their bonuses.

    Difficult time ahead, methinks.

  • Comment number 86.

    74. At 10:28am on 3rd Feb 2011, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:
    ..............
    The problem my friend, is the fact that everyone wants to label everything, and then they feel that gives them licence to oppose it even though it may have much to offer. We live in a world of PR, and although I hate to admit it, you may have to ‘badge’ your ideas accordingly, eg “sustainable resource allocation-ism” so they are seen as new and not old ideas re-hashed, avoiding the use of the M word, in the same way the C word is avoided by the acquisitiors. I think that any future system of resource allocation must at its heart embrace an environmental objective as its target, and we do the best we can to achieve that. Have you read “Prosperity without Growth” by the Sustainable Development Commission, available as a pdf. Very interesting. Personally I don’t see any reason why moving away from capitalism should be viewed as being less democratic. In fact I think there is an urgent need to make our country more democratic, and I’m sure any change in the way we allocate resources should be accompanied by improvements to democracy. This is a point picked up Ravi Batras book. Society may move from one age to another with a different ruling elite, but that does not mean we regress in terms of society’s social developments, i.e. democracy.

  • Comment number 87.

    75. At 10:36am on 3rd Feb 2011, Reticent_Trader wrote:

    "Russia turned itself from an backwards aggrarian economy into an industrial and military power, defeated Nazi Germany, achieved world superpower status, near 100% literacy, first man in space, and some of the world's best education in terms of science, engineering and mathematics."


    ...and people argue about the merits of central planning??? - even though there is this evidence and the rather large Gorilla that is the Chinese economy staring at us in the face.

    It seems to me we boil it down to one single issue - how do you get central planning with democratic direction (instruction)

    ...the answer is in the IP address of your computer.....and it's already happening as we speak. The capitalists may deny the power and freedom the internet brings (probably because all they look for is a way of profitting from it) - but as recent revolutions have shown, the power of communication is undermining all the traditional methods of oppression, from the military in despotic states - to the info-wars which occur in the west.

    If the state doesn't wake up to this - it's going to be swept aside by REAL public opinion....and there are many instances of this happening right now.

    We already have the technology to make the superior efficiency of central planning work - and keep democratic control of it. The Government is determined to not let this happen - and it's no more obvious than in the current claim of the coalition that passing responsibility to GP's for budgets will promote freedom and choice.

    This will not have this affect - in fact it will result in chaos, disorder and much waste. The idea that direction can be created at the lowest level is not a problem, the idea that this won't produce mass waste is a nonsense.

    If you think the ordering of swine flu vaccines went horribly wrong.....you ain't seen nuffink yet.

  • Comment number 88.

    74. At 10:28am on 3rd Feb 2011, NorthSeaHalibut wrote:

    Thank you, NSH. I respect your views. These views – of evolution – I also share, as I have mentioned in the past and my post 66 shows. The direction is perhaps different but the idea is the same.

    I can see a lot of practical issues with workers administering industries – history of trade unions shows workers’ self-interests take over to the detriment of services provided and their quality. How do you deal with lazy, unproductive workers that are somehow related to the main decision-makers? How do you encourage growth/maintain workers’ productivity if they all are paid the same? How do you encourage innovation? That’s the human dimension you guys continue to ignore at your peril.

    Successful soviet local administration policy? Bit of a contradiction in the centralised planned economy, wouldn’t you say? Somebody must have pulled some heavy wool over your eyes, NSH. In real life it was as shambolic as everything else. Efficient it certainly wasn’t. I reckon you must have spoken to former local apparatchiks/informers/security services personnel who bemoaned loss of their privileges and status in the new world order. I would be truly interested to hear which elements of that policy you were told were successful.

    So I was a little surprised by your response 33 to my earlier comments which were borne out of pure observation and experience. Can’t you see it is easy to criticise something tangible – for us “Capitalists” that’s the failed Communist states, for you “Revolutionaries” – it’s the Capitalist system itself. There is not much point in presenting a non-existent and un-tested Nirvana as something superior to what we have and then argue when one points out the obvious practicalities…

  • Comment number 89.

    84. At 11:16am on 3rd Feb 2011, yam yzf wrote:

    "And that has what to do with "Why don't Brits rule the corporate world?""

    If you don't know - then I'm not going to tell you.

    "Global food prices will always rise as we keep overpopulating the planet. As Stephen Hawking said, we need to get off the planet (bad paraphrase, but near enough)"

    WRONG, if this planet was egalitarian then we could support twice the number of people we currently have with a higher average standard of living.

    "And it is through a Brit - Branson - that more people will be able to take those first tentative steps into space and from there the quest will evolve. Unlike the ISS which is for the select few only"

    ???? - what you mean those rich boys who want to play spaceman and Branson who is doing nothing for scientific research in his exploits, but everything is for 'enjoyment'.

    Oh how sad you need to resort to such tripe. I presume you read my post yesterday where I highlighted that for half a Trillion dollars we could have permanent solar powered space stations on the moon - and the world has spent twice that propping up the system you such adore.

    You're regressive fella - you're taking mankind backwards - not forwards. Branson and his space jollies provide nothng towards the progress of mankind. We could have already 'got off this planet' as Stephen Hawking said - but I suspect he knows it would have to come from centralised direction and not space trips on a Virgin cruiser (which by the way won't actually get into 'space' but will cruise around the upper atmosphere so people can get an feeling of weightlessnes)

  • Comment number 90.

    82. At 11:12am on 3rd Feb 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:

    Has it ever occcured to you, WOTW, that it was only in those backward nations that Communist revolutions have actually succeeded in the first place - to ultimately fail? Maybe that was the main reason they have ever happened? Perhaps the educated middle classes and workers have all seen and see through all those wafer-thin and unsubstantiated arguments of Marxists and decided to give them wide berth...?

    Maybe that was not a direct cause but all those revolts against communists, frequent in Eastern Europe, happened after introduction of the universal education...

  • Comment number 91.

    64. At 08:59am on 3rd Feb 2011, That_Ian wrote:

    "WOTW insists we are all perfect so that is the logical solution…."

    No - I insist we should seek perfection - and not 'put up with second best' as you seem quite happy to do.

    I laugh in your claim that utopia is for dreamers - so why are you bothering to stay alive? - you may as well end it now as you have such a depressing outlook....or are you hoping the meek shall inherit the earth - or that you'll get a place in heaven (which by all accounts is utopian in it's design)

    Fear makes you do funny things doesn't it Ian? - what a shame you know that this system is failing (because in previous posts you have criticised the current status quo) - and yet all you can produce as a solution is.....the same system with a few 'tweaks'.

    I don't call that much of a solution ian, I call that wallowing in your own lack of foresight and self loathing.

    Some of us are slaves, some of us a free men, some of us are slaves pretending to be free men and some of us are free men pretending to be slaves.

    I know which one I am - which one are you?

  • Comment number 92.

    #16. WOTW...There is no shame in being better - but there is shame in thinking your better when you're not.
    ....I mean don't you think Capitalism is the 'best system on offer' - not really seeking out perfection with that statement now are you?


    So, Mr Marxist lover, please tell me of the better country that implements your Marxists ideals, and why you haven't already left to live there?

    You keep bashing on endlessly about the flaws in Capitalism, which we are all well aware of. But we also know that we prefer the freedom to work hard for personal profit. It is a basic human desire. Unfortunately because of human greed you do need governments to regulate the natural tendency to monopolistic exploitation. However, this is much better than the alternatives that always lead to poverty of everyone other than the party faithful.

  • Comment number 93.

    It make you think doesn't it, if Brits had been in charge of Pfizer whether they would be so quick to close down facilities here.
    Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 94.

    Am I right in thinking some people on this blog think we're living in a mertiocracy?

    Ah well, the delusion of some is unsurpassed and even I underestimated this. I presume these are people who are at the 'top of their game' (like myself) who think they earned the right to be where they are.

    ...shallow shells I'm afraid...despite my fortunate position I know this was not down to merit, it was down to opportunities...opportunities which simply don't exist for some member of society - no matter what their merit.

    I can also presume none of these people have actually met someone who earns over £1m a year. I have, and I can assure you that meritocracy it certainly isn't!

  • Comment number 95.

    82. At 11:12am on 3rd Feb 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    This is even more evident now as the Government is going to be faced with a choice soon - and I suspect their choice is already made and we will see draconian measures being used to suppress the people's outrage at the banks and corporations in general.
    Unlike in countries which have been fuedal - this will not be accepted by people who are used to democratic freedom - and we shall have our revolution.
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    I fear you may have a little longer to wait.
    The proles will not rise any time soon. Even Ravi puts little store by the labourers.

    Large swathes of lower middle classes, or petit bourgeousie in Marx speak, or daily mail reading little Englanders in my own, will see their wealth vanishing but in an increasingly global world will recognise their superior position relative to the masses of Asia, SOuth America and Africa. In short they will embrace the facism of the elite. This is why revolution never came to West, and won't until that relative position is removed.

    The masses of the Eastern world will tolerate the growing inequality vis-a-vis their home grown elites so long as they are becoming richer, as they will continue to do so.
    It is only until that time that the middle classes in the West have been totally submerged into the working classes, are debt slaves, and fear being cast off into the lumps, and no longer have relative wealth over the people of the East, that this can happen.
    Mind you, I do think this can happen relatively quickly. The growth of living standards of the East relative to the West will accelerate, especially with the current fads of currency devaluation and wage depression. In a world of finite resources we can only become poorer if they become richer. It will take 25 to 30 years. Until then, a real risk of facism.

  • Comment number 96.

    88. At 11:26am on 3rd Feb 2011, That_Ian wrote:

    " In real life it was as shambolic as everything else. Efficient it certainly wasn’t. "

    Ian - how do you explain this FACT then?

    "Russia turned itself from an backwards aggrarian economy into an industrial and military power, defeated Nazi Germany, achieved world superpower status, near 100% literacy, first man in space, and some of the world's best education in terms of science, engineering and mathematics."

    Do you dispute this? - or are you saying this was inevitable? Russia didn't change in size until the war, but it was already on it's way to being a superpower - in fact Russia and America were the only 2 nations the third Reich recognised as serious rivals.

    Your premise that it was a disorganised and chaotic system is not reflected in the fact that Russia progressed so far...so quickly.
    This is compounded by the fall from grace of the superpower since the rolling back of centralisation. It's hardly efficient now is it? - just like the other capitalist countries.

    You need to seperate the merits of centralisation with your emotional reaction to totalitarian states. It seems you are unable to do this and the result is you simply see everything communist as 'bad' - and consequently everything capitalist as 'good'.
    This view is tainting your conclusions and making you repeat the same inconsistencies over and over again - despite them being pointed out to you on several occasions.

  • Comment number 97.

    77. At 10:49am on 3rd Feb 2011, AudenGrey wrote:
    Sorry, I was actually only joking, but at a young age you must make up your mind if you wish to follow false prophets or real profits, eventually you will have (hopefully) a loving family to feed, so these are important days for you. Forgive an old fool.

    I don't buy that. Remember I've seen some of your posts.
    You can still get angry and idealistic old man.

    How about it? Got any fight left in you?

  • Comment number 98.

    RE: NorthSeaHalibut, Writingsonthewall, That_Ian, inter alia.

    Each day, each blog entry, without fail, becomes a carbon copy ideological argument between the same people. The language and rhetoric used to purvey these views are often patronising, stifling, disrespectful, and rude. Many people post, share ideas, debate with one another, and do so whilst respecting others' views. But others choose to leap onto anything that differs from their ideological stand point, and tear it to shreds. What I find most worrying about this, is that it is often people that espouse socialist views - who predict communist revolution, and who believe that the inequalities that exist today are destructive and antithetical to sustainable society, and who believe everyone ought to be equal. What is worrying about this is not the ideological stand point which is admirable, often well argued and backed up, but the language used to put others down - referring to people as 'sheep-le' or calling others 'ignorant' and doing so with sarcastic and patronising overtones. I hold firmly to socialist values, but the way in which certain people attempt to forward a socialist agenda here is utterly counter-productive, inciteful, and unnecessary.

    Quite clearly there are some very good, and well-informed ideas being shared, but surely it would be better to do so in a respectful manner which doesn't make others feel that their views are worthless. Anyone that believes a person is a sheep, yet wants to promote a communist revolution needs to be clear about their principles.

  • Comment number 99.

    90. At 11:34am on 3rd Feb 2011, That_Ian wrote:

    82. At 11:12am on 3rd Feb 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:

    "Has it ever occcured to you, WOTW, that it was only in those backward nations that Communist revolutions have actually succeeded in the first place - to ultimately fail?"

    Communist revolution? - when?, where? Do you mean the Paris commune?

    "Maybe that was the main reason they have ever happened? Perhaps the educated middle classes and workers have all seen and see through all those wafer-thin and unsubstantiated arguments of Marxists and decided to give them wide berth...?"

    ...there is no such thing as middle class, Marx pointed this out in the late 1800's - if you actually knew what you were talking baout you would know that Marx identified these as petit bourgoisie - those members of the working class who would happily assist in the oppression of the rest of the working class......for a "few extra crumbs from the masters table" - I would suggest you feel you're in this category.

    "Maybe that was not a direct cause but all those revolts against communists, frequent in Eastern Europe, happened after introduction of the universal education..."

    Once again - for the umpteenth time, The soviet union that collapsed in 1998 was NOT COMMUNIST IN NATURE - merely in name.
    You keep going back to the same point over and over again - you need to read Marx before you can understand it - getting the gist of it from the back of a cornflake packet isn't helping your understanding. Of course when the population were educated they realised that "this isn't communism, it's a dictatorship" - and promptly rid themselves of it (a bit like the democrats in Egypt are doing now)

    Go and read about the dictatorship of the proletariate - then come back and tell me when this has ever happened (in Russia or anywhere else). A date or a place would be nice.

    Until then consider this conversation over - I cannot debate with someone who only has half the facts....or rather won't consider the full facts because they undermine his argument.

    Round and round and round we go....

  • Comment number 100.

    #94. ...shallow shells I'm afraid...despite my fortunate position I know this was not down to merit, it was down to opportunities...opportunities which simply don't exist for some member of society - no matter what their merit.

    Come on. What world do you live in? You remove ALL notions of personal responsibility for the outcomes in your life. Are you trying to make me feel guilty for always being a good student and hard worker, as if the opportunities that open up for such a person have not been in part due to merit?

    As for your ealier comments about desiring central planning. Please, leave us in peace and go an find a wonderfully planned world to live in. Your Marxist drivel really gets annoying.

 

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